Fish going with the environmental flow

A key to native fish recovery is to use water for the environment to trigger fish to move so they will then feed and breed – the benefit being more fish for the environment and more fish for fishing!

Anglers who are out and about on the water would have noticed that native fish have different preferences for flows. Murray cod, for example, like a range of flows – when breeding they like snags in flowing water so they can use them to lay their eggs, while attempting to devour any food from the water that flows past.

Agencies recently worked together to try and improve fish populations in the Loddon River system, providing benefits for anglers in the Central Murray region.

Research shows that silver perch, golden perch and Murray cod need flows of 700-900 megalitres (ML) through Kerang Weir to attract them from the lower Loddon River and River Murray. This flow helps them move through the Kerang Weir fishway and into the Loddon River, Pyramid Creek and into Kow Swamp through a fish lock.

During April and May 2017, North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Goulburn Murray Water and the Victorian Environmental Water Holder worked together to provide the right flows at the right time to make this happen.

The proof was in the pudding, with scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute trapping fish at several locations before and during the flows to test if they were working for the fish. There were promising results showing that fish were most certainly ‘going with the flow’!

They recorded good catches of golden perch and silver perch at Kerang Weir, and at the ‘chute’ fishway on the Loddon River. Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch were also trapped and released in the fish lock at Kow Swamp. Fish that were tagged in the River Murray were detected moving through the various fishways in the system.

The environmental flows also add to works undertaken under North Central CMA’s Native Fish Recovery Plan, which aims to improve flows, habitat and connectivity in key waterways, providing benefits for anglers and the community of the Central Murray region.

Want to know more about water for the environment, visit the Victorian Environmental Water Holder website

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